Christians respond to Moore, Okla. tragedy

My reaction time to the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma this week, in which an F5 tornado hit the town and demolished everything in its wake, including a school still in session, has been slow. For some reason, I have found it difficult to digest and process. 

The process slowed down even more after reading Who hears #PrayersforOklahoma? on CNN's Belief Blog. This article describes a backlash of negative commentary regarding a Tweet sent out saying that people were praying for those affected by the tragedy in Oklahoma. And, yes, I am angry about the comments. It is at these time when Americans should pull together not attack each other.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"A prayer is supposed to have a consequence for you," said Elizabeth Drescher, a lecturer at Santa Clara University in California. "It's not an act of magic."
Gervais, an ardent foe of organized religion, was more caustic.
After MTV tweeted that pop stars Beyonce, Rihanna and Katy Perry are sending their prayers to Oklahoma, Gervais responded, “I feel like an idiot now … I only sent money.”
Gervais and other atheists also kick-started a counter-trend, using the hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma.
“If all people are doing is praying, it is worthless,” Hemant Mehta, an Illinois math teacher who writes the blog “Friendly Atheist,” told CNN. “If they are praying and donating to the Red Cross, that’s more like it.”
Certainly, my prayers and money go out to these people. I cannot imagine what they are going through. I am not saying this, however, to toot my own horn. I am writing this in response to those who think that Christians are a bunch of lazy do-nothings who have nothing better to do than sit around condemning victims of disasters and Tweeting meaningless platitudes. Here are two examples of Christian groups who are doing much more than Tweeting a quick prayer and writing a check from their abundance so that they can feel good about themselves and brag all over social media.


Salvation Army Responds Immediately To Deadly Tornado In Moore, Ok.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Salvation Army is on the ground in Moore, Ok. with multiple canteens and personnel coordinating with Local and State Emergency Management to serve first responders and those affected by the tornado. They continue to provide service to hard hit areas from Monday's storms which include Shawnee – multiple sites, Carney area, and Cleveland County.
Meals and hydration are being provided for first responders and those affected. Major Steve Morris, Arkansas-Oklahoma divisional commander has been driving around the affected area. Major Morris states “The devastation is far reaching both in human life, property and livestock loss. The Salvation Army is honored to serve and provide sustenance to first responders involved in search and rescue, coordination efforts and more. And, of course, all survivors will be provided spiritual and emotional care."

Nazarenes on the ground in Oklahoma, will you help?

21 May 2013
...Yesterday afternoon, the Church of the Nazarene started mobilizing relief efforts. Oklahoma City Trinity Church of the Nazarene has been designated the relief resource center for both the Southwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Districts. In addition to Moore, which is on the Southwest Oklahoma District, several towns on the Oklahoma District were also touched by tornadoes. Trinity initially opened its doors as an emergency shelter but now is receiving donations for efforts beyond its walls as it coordinates relief services through local Nazarene congregations and collaborates with organizations such as the American Red Cross and Heart to Heart International. They will also be coordinating volunteers to do cleanup as the days progress.
General Superintendent Stan Toler, former pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene, traveled to Moore today visiting the destruction zone as well as Nazarenes there. The pastor of the Moore Church of the Nazarene has been located and is safe, but the church structure has suffered significant damage: the steeple blown off, roof damage, and debris all over the churchyard.
At neighboring Norman Community Church of the Nazarene, three parishioners lost their homes. According to Pastor Brent Hardesty, the church is ready to respond to surround these families.
“We will be working with these three families but also want to be involved in the overall response,” Hardesty said.
This is the heart of many inside and outside the affected region. Churches in Arizona have sent over 800 crisis care kits to the scene. Closer to home, the Oklahoma District, West Texas District, and Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene have donated 135 cases of crisis care kits. Nazarenes around the world have donated money to tornado relief, and others have started to make plans to volunteer as a part of the clean up efforts.
There is still time to join in sharing hope with those whose lives have been turned upside down. Donate online here  or send a check to the Church of the Nazarene’s US Tornado Relief Fund. Those interested in volunteering in cleanup efforts should register at Work and Witness  under Oklahoma Tornado Relief and await further instruction as teams are allowed in.  Those who want to send crisis care kits before May 28 should ship them to: Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene, 4400 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City, OK 73116, Attn: Tamara Hewes. After May 28, please send crisis care kits to one of the CCK NCM Warehouses

A crisis care kit includes:
1 medium-size bottle of shampoo (12-18 oz.), please tape flip-tops closed
• 2 bars of soap (bath-size or larger)
• 1 medium toothpaste (4.0-6.4 oz.)
• 3 toothbrushes (in original packaging)
• 1 box of Band-Aids (30 or more)
• 1 fingernail clipper
• 1 sturdy hair comb
• 2 hand towels
• 4 pocket-size packages of facial tissue
• 1 Beanie Baby-size stuffed toy
Nazarene churches all over the world collect these items, seal them in gallon-size bags and ship them to Kansas City, Missouri so that the general church can distribute them in disaster situations. Our local church e-mailed a plea for more kits today and my family is going to make some. The last time I checked, a case is a banana crate that holds several of these kits.
Another issue that was addressed on CNN's Belief Blog is the bad theology that seems to come out of the woodwork in crisis situations. One believer commented:
“God is still in control!” said Wilbur Dugger, a commenter on CNN’s Facebook page. “Everything (God) does is to get our attention. … My sympathy and prayers go out to those who get caught up in his demonstrations of (God) ruling the world.”
That response angers me too. How can you serve such a selfish God? You are misrepresenting the God whom Christians love and serve. The Rev. Ian Punnett wrote a good article about this:
May God have mercy on us all.